Palestinian PM says Hamas force is legal as Israel kills Palestinian
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh insisted Friday that Hamas' 6,000-strong militia be recognized as a branch of the Palestinian security forces, a disputed issue that has provoked bloody clashes with the Fatah movement in the past.
Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has declared the Hamas militia illegal and wants it dismantled. The Hamas militia, known as the Executive Force, was formed last year by the Hamas-only government as a response to its lack of authority over the security forces loyal to Abbas.
Haniyeh, of Hamas, told worshippers in a mosque in the Jebalya Refugee Camp that the Executive Force must be recognized and kept intact. "I say it is legal, and also has the bravest, cleanest and most loyal men," said Haniyeh.
Fatah spokesman Maher Mikdad said keeping the Hamas militia intact is a dealbreaker. "There is no approval to deploy this force as an independent group. I am afraid this will contribute to the failure of the security plan in general," he said.
Haniyeh, referring to reports that Fatah's security forces have asked for permission from Israel to import new weapons via Egypt, said Arab countries should not offer their help. "It is not acceptable that any Arab country provide weapons to one side," he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian and wounded another Friday night near the West Bank city of Hebron, the military said, adding that the wounded man escaped.
Residents of the village of Tufah, west of Hebron, said the men were local hunters out looking for game in the dark. They were not known to be connected to any militant groups. Medics said the dead youth was aged 17, while the other man, who was in moderate condition, was 25.